19 Oct 2017
Former President George W. Bush delivered a public repudiation of President Donald Trump’s political identity, suggesting many aspects of the current administration are fueling division in the United States and around the world.
The former president defended the ideas of globalism, free trade, and free markets as well as foreign interventionism around the world in a speech at the George W. Bush Institute.
“We cannot wish globalism away,” Bush said, noting that the United States must sustain “wise and sustained global engagement” for the future of the country.
Bush indirectly accused Trump of fueling dangerous ideologies that threatened the unity of the United States and global stability, spending a large portion of his speech complaining about social ills in the country.
“We’ve seen a return of isolationist sentiments forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places,” he warned.
Bush urged Americans to “recover our own identity,” citing a commitment to global engagement, free and international trade, and immigration.
“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, and forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” he lamented.
“Bigotry seems emboldened, our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” he said. “There are some signs that support for democracy itself has waned especially for the young.”
But Bush’s criticism wasn’t merely on Trump’s “America First” political ideology. He also criticized the tone of the American political system led by Trump.
“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” he lamented, noting that “argument turns too easily into animosity” and “disagreement escalates into dehumanization.”
He criticized the rise of “bullying and prejudice” in national politics, suggesting that the country lacked positive role models.
The former president looped in a condemnation of white supremacy as part of his speech, suggesting that it was a growing threat in Trump’s America.
“Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” he said.
He called for a restoration of American norms in society.
“Our identity as a nation, unlike many other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood,” he said. “Being American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility.”
Bush’s decision to publicly criticize Trump’s presidency is unusual after he made a point of rarely challenging President Barack Obama while he was in office.